Children’s Assembly addresses urban child well-being at the WUF7

Children’s Assembly addresses urban child well-being at the WUF7

In a historical first, children’s voices were featured in dialogue on the future of cities at the Seventh Session of the World Urban Forum. The WUF7 Children’s Assembly, which was organized by the World Urban Campaign Lead Partner World Vision International in cooperation with UN-Habitat, provided a platform for children to reflect and discuss their experiences of living in a city and to play a role in shaping cities of the future. The Assembly included over 200 children from diverse neighbourhoods of Colombia and child representatives from Bolivia, El Salvador, and Honduras.

The Assembly aimed to facilitate the incorporation of children’s voices into the dialogue on urban vulnerabilities to influence decision-makers in designing safe, resilient, prosperous and healthy cities for the 21st century.

Children presented their dream cities through creative activities such as painting, building and debating, to inform a formal Children's Charter. This Charter was presented to UN-Habitat's Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, by 13-year old Carolina Jaramillo Jaramillo from World Vision Colombia's Peace Building Program during the opening of the World Urban Campaign Special Session. During the presentation, Carolina declared, “We are the present, we will be here tomorrow and adults need to listen to us.”

Like millions around the world, many of the children said that they live in poor urban neighbourhoods. They stated that children living in the world’s slums are under constant threat of eviction, they lack access to clean water and clean toilets, are vulnerable to infectious diseases, suffer from poor quality of education, and are highly vulnerable to trafficking, child labour, violence, and living on the streets.  They hoped for places to play, to go to school, and to live in secure homes with their families.

Joyati Das, Senior Director, Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming, World Vision International, noted that both UN-Habitat and World Vision International saw the need for children and youth to participate in the decision-making process around urban spaces.

Das stated that “Children are the future of the city. The Convention of the Rights of the Child asserts that children have the right to freely express their thoughts, opinions and ideas, and it is an obligation that these are heard and recognized.  It is important for development actors and policy makers to include consultations with children in all matters that affect their lives. They must be continually encouraged, so that they are able to provide their unique perspective on development and advocate for the cities they need.”

Children's Assembly c UN-Habitat